Medicaid expansion increased enrollees’ financial satisfaction, decreased unpaid medical debt

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By Paige Minemyer

Medicaid expansion not only led to significantly more insured people, but also played a role in improving financial health and reducing medical debts for low-income people, according to a new report.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota analyzed responses to the National Financial Capability Study, which gathers survey data on people’s personal finances, and found that low-income people in expansion states had lower rates of medical debt than those in nonexpansion states and reported more rapid improvement in how they perceive their financial situations.

The analysis included 4,500 people aged 18 to 64 and whose lower income boundary was below 138% of the federal poverty level. Forty-seven percent of those in nonexpansion states and 43% of those in expansion states reported unpaid medical debt at the end of 2012, while 40% of people in nonexpansion states and 30% of those in expansion states said the same at the end of 2015, after the Affordable Care Act had gone into full effect.

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